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Gloria Steinem: “The first Women’s Lib version was limited. We’ve made progress since.”


Before defending An inner revolution, the subversive power of self-esteem, particularly in relations between women and men, journalist and essayist Gloria Steinem, an emblematic figure of American feminism, born in 1934, has spent twenty years traveling the United States . From the discussions she led, the meetings and demonstrations in which she participated and the encounters she made were born most of her books, among them her autobiography, My life on the road (HarperCollins, 2019), and its “reflections on love, life, rebellion”, The truth will set you free, but first it will enrage you (HarperCollins, 2020). It is on the occasion of the publication of a new translation ofAn inner revolution that she agreed to answer questions from the “World of Books”.

The main idea of ​​“A Revolution Within” is that self-esteem and self-care can constitute revolutionary power, that they can have political consequences – by making activism possible, for example. How did this evidence of the link between self-esteem and political action come to you?

It takes time to become aware of the concrete obstacles facing us, the dangers, the sexual assaults, the inequality in wages, the inequality in parenting – which is still very entrenched, since it is women who still care for many more children than men. It is long and difficult to break down these obstacles, because they have been normalized by the structures around us. But we are social and community beings, and we are therefore also very vulnerable to the opinion that others have of us, in our families, at work, in our neighborhood. Each of us is a unique being, who has never existed before and will never exist again, but we live in the midst of expectations and restrictions that may prevent us from fully expressing who we are. .

We have made progress, both in the United States and in France. As women, for example, we have long been encouraged to believe that we are responsible for what happens to us. If a woman was raped or assaulted, the first questions she was asked were often, “Why were you wearing these clothes?” », « What were you doing there? As if she was to blame, somehow, for the abuse she had suffered. I hope and believe that this is less and less the case.

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